I hold in my hand the 2000-01 Oilers official media guide. It is 240 pages. There are lots of people I’ve met in this guide, some I consider friends. From Bill Tuele to Brent Saik, from Allan Watt and Bryn Griffiths to Melanie Harysh to Joaquin Gage to Rod Phillips, who told me the single funniest joke I’ve ever heard (I can’t tell it anymore). It also contains the ‘in the system’ prospects and that portion of the guide is our subject this morning.
The Athletic Edmonton features a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of The Athletic, we are celebrating our 2-year anniversary today. To mark the occasion, you can get 40% off subscriptions until Sept. 19 here.
- New Jonathan Willis: Oilers’ defensive hopes will rest on the new shutdown pair of Darnell Nurse and Adam Larsson
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: With Evan Bouchard as the headliner, here are the players to watch at Oilers rookie camp
- New Lowetide: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the configuration of the Oilers second line
- Lowetide: Connor McDavid’s 2019-20: Pushing for 50 goals while Dave Tippett loads up the Oilers’ top line
- Lowetide: Estimating reasonable expectations for the 2019-20 Edmonton Oilers: A difficult journey
- Jonathan Willis: How much money will Darnell Nurse make on his next NHL contract?
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s measured summer leaves Oilers outside playoffs.
- Jonathan Willis: Can Mikko Koskinen be a quality starter for Oilers in 2019-20?
- Lowetide: The 2019-20 Oilers and value contracts: A period of transition
- Corey Pronman: Oilers No. 9 farm system.
- Jonathan Willis: Jesse Puljujarvi signs one-year deal in Finland, dashing hopes he would return to the Oilers
- Lowetide: Jay Woodcroft joins Claude Julien and Todd Nelson as key coaches in Oilers prospect development
- Lowetide: Is Riley Sheahan an ideal fit for the Oilers as their No. 3 centre?
- Lowetide: Oilers coach Dave Tippett might have to take drastic action in order to find a second outscoring line in 2019-20
- Lowetide: Oilers end summer still shy on first-shot scoring wingers
- Lowetide: Connor McDavid and optimal line chemistry: The Oilers need to abandon enforcer fixation and add a skill winger
- Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi’s biggest hurdles: Bad timing and the indifference of the Oilers.
- Lowetide: Projecting the Oilers 2019-20 Opening Night Lineup
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: Dave Tippett on rounding out his coaching staff, fixing Oilers’ special teams and using Connor McDavid
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: What the 2021-22 Oilers might look like after their steady build toward contender status
- Lowetide: Joel Persson is ideally situated to win an opening night roster spot with the Oilers
- Jonathan Willis: Projecting the Oilers’ opening night lineup, line combinations and more.
- Lowetide: Oilers’ acquisition of James Neal could add badly needed scoring to the top two lines.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ken Holland puts his stamp on the Oilers with first big move in Lucic-Neal trade
- Jonathan Willis: Ken Holland ends an ugly situation for the Oilers by trading Milan Lucic for James Neal
- Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects summer 2019.
To celebrate two years (!!!) The Athletic will have a special Q&A today at noon, featuring Daniel Nugent-Bowman, Jonathan Willis and me. Looking forward to it, lots to discuss, please chime in! Here is the link.
THE 2000-01 PROSPECTS
Through this spring and summer, we’ve discussed the Oilers prospects and as a group have decided who should receive our collective seal of approval (Tyler Benson, William Lagesson, Caleb Jones) and who we should view with a jaundiced eye (you know the list).
I’ve been saying for weeks that none of our verbal matters and it’s true. I have no doubt that the players on the upswing had terrific seasons, but we don’t know if they’re going to build on it. History says one in three or thereabouts.
Jeff Petry made it, Taylor Chorney got down the road apiece and Cody Wild didn’t make it. What about the 2000-01 group?
THE 2000 FALL PROSPECT GROUP
Kristian Antilla was a fourth-round pick in 1998, a goalie out of Finland. In 1999-00, he was a regular in the Sm-Liiga, and except for a couple of AHL games in 2002-03, that’s all she wrote.
Christian Chartier was an eighth-round pick in 1999, a LHD. He had a solid pro career, playing three AHL seasons before settling in with German league DEL’s Augsburg Panthers. NHLE: 12
Jason Chimera was a fifth-round pick in 1997, an absolute burner from the Medicine Hat Tigers. Kevin Lowe would tell the media every summer this was Chimera’s year with the big club, every fall MacT would send him out. He would play 130 games with the Oilers over four years before blossoming with Columbus. NHLE: 14.4
Mike Comrie was a third-round pick in 1999, and in the fall of 2000 there was some question about his being Oilers property (he would eventually sign). Comrie was a helluva player, but it never seemed to work out. Injuries shortened a solid career. NHLE: 39.9
Lou Dickenson was a tall center drafted out of the OHL in the fourth round in 2000. He stood out as a promising pivot compared to what was in the system at the time. NHLE: 17.1
Jonathan Fauteaux was a giant RHD chosen in sixth round of the 1999 draft. He played just three AHL games.
Scott Ferguson was an older LHD prospect, Edmonton signed him in 1994, and then dealt him to Anaheim for Frank Musil in 1998. Ferguson was back as a minor league free agent July 5, 2000. He played parts of four seasons with Edmonton in his second stint, including a game on the wing as MacT gave Jani Rita an NHL chance.
Paul Flache was a big RHD, fifth-round choice in the 2000 draft. He played parts of three seasons in the AHL.
Alex Fomitchev was a small goalie chosen in the tenth round of the 1997 draft. He played for the St. Albert Saints at the time, bet the Oilers saw him good (he was good at that level). He had a solid career in Russia (RSL and then KHL).
Chris Hajt was a favourite of mine, Oilers talked about him a lot in the years after he was drafted in the third round of the 1996 draft. He played in six NHL games.
Brett Hauer was a RHD Edmonton acquired from Vancouver in 1995, he was still hanging around five years later. He could move the puck and played in Europe for some time.
Eric Heffler was a free agent signing by Edmonton in May 1999. He was quality in Hamilton (AHL) in 1999-00 and there was some curiosity about him around this time. He did not have much hockey left.
Michael Henrich was a first-round selection in 1998 who had posted two 38-goal seasons in the OHL after he was drafted. He disappointed as a rookie pro and did not play in the NHL. NHLE: 32
Alex Henry was a true giant defenseman, drafted in the third round of the 1998 draft. He had an NHL career, 177 games, as a depth player.
Chad Hinz was an eighth-round pick in 1997. A righty center/wing, he had a big final junior season in 1998-99 and then struggled in pro in 1999-00. He would go on to play four AHL seasons in the Oilers system.
Shawn Horcoff is the star of this little exercise, and the reason why hope springs eternal for some of us. Chosen in the fourth round of the 1998 draft, he would waste little time in the AHL (24 games) before finding his way to the NHL. He played 1,008 career regular season games and played brilliant hockey in 2005-06. NHLE: 41.9
Matthew Lombardi was a skill forward who Edmonton drafted in the eighth-round of the 2000 draft. He was a brilliant pick, and would go on to play over 500 NHL games. Alas he did not sign with Edmonton. NHLE: 15.5
Alexei Mikhnov was a giant LW who the Oilers drafted in the first round in 2000. He was big, skilled, didn’t have a passport and was basically blind. However, he did post a long KHL career, playing as late as 2018-19.
Alain Nasreddine was a rangy defenseman acquired in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens at the 2000 deadline (along with Igor Ulanov). He would play well for Hamilton (AHL) while in the Oilers system and eventually find some NHL work in the middle of the decade with Pittsburgh.
Shaun Norrie was a right winger and a sixth round pick in the 2000 draft. He did not have a pro career.
Fernando Pisani was an eighth-round selection in 1996, and an inspired one for sure. He had a short but brilliant career with the Oilers and by 2000 fall he was ready to turn pro. NHLE: 27
Michel Riesen was a first-round pick in the 1997 draft, a highly skilled Swiss winger who spent 1999-00 on a ‘Bulldog’ line in Hamilton with Dan Cleary and Brian Swanson. He didn’t grab an NHL career but he had talent. NHLE 31
Jani Rita was a first-round pick in 1999, he scored a goal at the WJ’s that year that was unforgettable. In 1999-00 he played sparingly in the Sm-Liiga and never got untracked, although he had a solid career in Europe. NHLE: 8
Terran Sandwith was a LHD with NHL experience with the Oilers (97-98) when Edmonton signed him on July 19, 2000. He played in the minors.
Peter Sarno was a small highly skilled center chosen in the sixth round in 1997. His rookie season in the AHL was strong, and he would play seven NHL games. NHLE: 28
Alexei Semenov was a gigantic defenseman chosen in the second round of the 1999 draft. Big, big defender with slow boots he would play 211 games and qualifies as a success ala Alex Henry.
Maxim Spiridonov was a small skill forward who was chosen in the ninth round of the 1998 draft. In 1999-00 he played 10 AHL and 57 ECHL games. He would have a long career in Russia.
Brian Swanson was a solid center prospect signed out of Colorado College in the summer of 1999. He adapted quickly to the AHL posting 59 points in 69 games in 1999-00. He would play 70 NHL games. NHLE: 29
Brian Urick was a right wing drafted out of Notre Dame (NCAA) in 1996 (fifth round). He would played parts of two AHL seasons.
Alexandre Volkov was acquired from the Washington Capitals in February 2000. He would rocket to Russia for 2000-01.
Brad Winchester was the second round pick in 2000 and ended up being a good selection. The big man made it to the NHL for 390 games. NHLE: 15
Total Players: 31
Total Successes: 8 (26 percent)
Major successes (450+ NHL games) Jason Chimera (1,107); Shawn Horcoff (1,008); Mike Comrie (589); Matt Lombardi (536); Fernando Pisani (462).
Total NHL GP by five major successes: 3702
Total EDM NHL GP by five major successes: 1563 (42 percent)
Shawn Horcoff was my guy in fall 2000 he was demonstrably better as a two-way center than the other young upstarts. He is the ultimate success story for Edmonton in this group because he not only delivered in a prominent role, he did it as an Oilers player for many years. To a lesser degree (because of illness and a shortened career) Fernando Pisani also qualifies.
That’s kind of the point when I talk about not getting your hopes up on a specific player. I can tell you defensemen break your heart, they just do. Years ago the Oilers had a defender named Mathieu Roy, who, while never proven, appeared damn determined to hurt himself on the ice during every shift. Shot blocks to the hand, concussions, leg injuries, oh God the knee, it goes on.
So please don’t be angry at Uncle Lowetide when he says it, but some of these bright shiny faces aren’t going to play 100 games in the NHL. Some will play 450+ and many/most will be for another team. You can say “because Oilers” but this happens for all NHL clubs to a greater or lesser degree.
Mark my words: One day this winter, one or more of you will be fretting over the future of your favourite Oilers prospect. You’ll be exactly where Mrs. Pouliot and I were the day MAP got mono.
I’m not saying stop cheering. I’m saying a little distance from specific attachments is wise when it comes to prospects. Especially defensemen. Not a one of them from 2000 fall played 450 NHL games.
One final thing: Check the first-round picks. My goodness MacT was not impressed with draft pedigree.
By my count Ilya Konovalov was the first Oilers prospect to play in a regular season league game, and the results were disappointing. He allowed five goals while stopping 30 in a loss, his SP is .857 to start the season. Lokomotiv plays again tomorrow.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning gets started at 10, TSN1260. Frank Seravalli from TSN is back and we’ll chat McDavid return time line, CBA negotiations and more. Anthony Wood from Touchdown NFL will chat Texans and we’ll talk CFL and Oilers rookie camp. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!